Home > Family > Do’s and Don’ts of Vacationing with Kids

Do’s and Don’ts of Vacationing with Kids

A lot has changed since our last family vacation in April, most notably having another kid, but my wife’s and my resolve to vacation on a regular basis remains the same. So we decided to head to Cape May, NJ for 4 days/3 nights. I’m not a huge Jersey Shore fan, but it was nice to see that there were a lot of folks like myself who clearly don’t go to the gym (I  have an ab – the 6 have combined into one awesome, rotund muscle) and could use a tan (the only color I have on my thighs are hairs).

While checking in, this was part of the conversation with the hotel staff:

Staff: Ok sir. We have beach towels here for your use. Beach tags and chairs can be rented near the beach.
Me: Great. Beach tag?
S: Yes sir. You can rent them at several locations.
M: Is that like some kind of flag?
S: No sir. You have to pay to access the beach.

What the what?! Yup. You have to pay to access most beaches in New Jersey – $5/day, $10 for 3 days for anyone over 12. Being from the DMV, I’m always surprised to go to other cities and find I have to pay to visit a museum, which I can understand, but the beach? Being the frugal guy I am, I decided to try before I buy, mostly because D1 hated sand when we went to the beach in April. When D1 saw the beach, she ran excitedly, but once she hit the sand, she froze and asked to be picked up. *whew* saved $20! I imagine by next year, she’ll be eating the stuff.

Recently, Gigi from Kludgy Mom did a guest post at Scary Mommy entitled, “Vacations With Kids: A Primer,” which I thought was great and got me thinking about some of our Do’s and Don’ts we learned while vacationing with a 2.5yo and a 4 week old.

DO go on vacation. Not having to do the laundry every time D2 spits up (only at college parties do people throw up more after drinking than D2)? Not having to tell D1, “STOP JUMPING ON THE BED!” and instead playing Lava with her (you know – everywhere but the pillows on the floor is lava)? Not worrying if your kids spill something or make a mess? Yes, please!
forget to tip housekeeping.

DO pack plenty of diapers and wipes – D1 usually soils 4/day and D2 does about 6. Multiply by the number of days and then throw in 2 more for good measure.
DON’T pack too many clothes. We typically over pack, which means more laundry when you get back home.

DO head out just before their nap times and tank up your newborn. That way, they (should) sleep through most of the drive.
DON’T worry – you won’t necessarily go insane when both girls are screaming for about an hour. Although you’ll come awfully close.

DO bring everything you think you may need with you when you head out (diapers, wipes, water, snacks). Yes, you will wonder if you’re a dad or if you’ve been recommissioned as a pack mule, but it’s far better than a situation where your child dropped the biggest dump ever, decided to take off her diaper, and run around with poop clumps on her butt, all while you panic and kick yourself for not bringing diapers or wipes. Hypothetically, of course.
DON’T think back to when it was just you and the wife. Just don’t. It will only depress you.

DO eat at places where other parents are eating or get takeout food and eat outdoors or on the boardwalk.
DON’T go to a fancy place expecting the fanciness to cause  your kids to transform into little angels.

DO enjoy yourselves.
DON’T focus entirely on the kids or you’ll need a vacation from your vacation.

DO eat funnel cake, ice cream, pizza, boardwalk fries, and order both desserts when you can’t decide. After all, you’re on vacation.
DON’T get on a scale immediately after you get home.

What are some of your do’s and don’ts for vacationing with young children?

  1. August 4, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Sounds like fun. I love your list, I live in Jersey, not the shore area but still can’t believe they charge to get on the beach! what the what is right! And I totally agree, thinking back to pre child vacation days can be depressing while on vacation with the little munchkins! I definitely try not to do that….ever.

    • Pop
      August 5, 2010 at 8:31 am

      I still think it’s crazy. Ah well, guess I’ll be prepared next time.

      While vacationing certainly isn’t the same anymore, it’s also awesome in its own unique ways. For example, there was the moment my daughter just ran up to me while I was sitting on a bench on the boardwalk, gave me a hug, and said I love you.

  2. Veronica
    August 4, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    LOL! Great post.

  3. August 5, 2010 at 1:24 am

    oh my gosh, I’m laughing here. Thank you for visitng. I saw that I had a comment from “gopopgo” and I thought, Hmmm…sounds like a spammer. Or someone from Samoa…then I get here, and its’ “go comma pop comma go.”

    I’m still laughing..nice to meet you and thank you for making me laugh so hard just now…

    • Pop
      August 5, 2010 at 8:32 am

      haha. That does sound like Samoan or something. I feel honored to have the Empress stop by.

  4. August 6, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Excellent tips!! Love the lava game, then again jumping on the bed is fun too. 😀

    • Pop
      August 7, 2010 at 12:14 am

      Especially when it’s not a bad I’ll have to replace!

  5. August 6, 2010 at 8:32 am

    I’m about to take a road trip across three states with my three kids. This tips are timely and useful.

    • Pop
      August 7, 2010 at 12:15 am

      Godspeed, Mocha Dad. Godspeed.

  6. acorn
    August 6, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Cape May sucks. Totally boring for kids and you have to pay to go to the beach. Go to Wildwood, just a few miles north!!!! The beach is free and the boardwalk is packed with stuff to do.

    • Pop
      August 7, 2010 at 12:16 am

      haha~ I’m gonna have to agree with you, acorn. Aside from Washington St, there was practically nothing to do. And the boardwalk didn’t have very many boards. We spent most of our time in Ocean City, NJ, but next time, we’ll definitely keep Wildwood in mind. Thanks!

  7. August 6, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Vacations with kids? What’s that? Thanks for the tips, we’re traveling to Europe soon to visit family with the two boys and it has all the promises of a “epic” adventure (wait, that’s a different post of yours)… Last time we vacationed as a family, we tried to do and see too much at once, so the one thing I can recommend to anyone planning a family vacation is to make sure it IS a vacation. Yes, there are many, many things to do and see in the world, but in the end, all that matters is not what you saw, but who you saw it with.

    • Pop
      August 7, 2010 at 12:18 am

      A vacation to Europe with two kids WILL be epic ;-P And AMEN to “but who you saw it with.” One thing I forgot was to recommend that parents nap when their kids nap, even for a little bit. Staying up gives the kids an unfair advantage later in the day. Thankfully, coffee works.

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